Founder DNA is something that I’ve written about previously, and something that Icon Group is richly blessed with. With founders of each of the different businesses that have come together to form Icon Group still actively involved, Stuart realised last year that this provided a tremendous opportunity to harness their skills and experience to create a leadership program of a kind that few other organisations are able to deliver.
This has led to the creation of the Founders Forum, where an initial twelve participants have been selected from more than eighty applicants to spend 2019 as part of the inaugural cohort. Representatives from all different disciplines of the business are included, and as part of the program they’ll undergo coaching sessions which help them gain an insight into their individual strengths and talents and how best to make use of those. They’ve also been split into teams, with each team paired with a ‘flag bearer founder’ who they can draw on for guidance as they workshop a project of their choice over the course of the year before presenting it to the Group Executive at the year’s end.
The goal of each project is for the team to have the opportunity to apply the blue-sky, out on a limb founder style freedom of thinking that the restrictions and responsibilities of their ‘day job’ within the business doesn’t provide for, with the role of the flag bearers being to push them further out on that limb than corporate comfort zones would usually allow.
Our hope is that this will continue to enshrine the entrepreneurial thinking that has driven the success of Icon Group and its constituent businesses to date. Some of the projects may end up being adopted as new business streams or opportunities, some of them may end up being exciting future potential prospects which for one reason or another are unable to be implemented at this time, and some of them may be spectacular failures. Some of them may also spark a fire that ends up ultimately being fuelled by the participants departing us on a quest to start their own venture.
The important thing is that each of those involved has the chance to understand a little more of what drove Icon to where it is today, and have the chance to take their own turn behind the entrepreneurial wheel. For the founders, it’s also providing each of us with the opportunity to dig deep into our own history and try to capture the key lessons and drivers behind our own entrepreneurial journeys.
I wrote this post last year about my 20 tips from 20 years, Stuart has been a little more succinct and created his Founders Five which were shared with the group over the past couple of days.
We can’t wait to see what ideas and inspiration the Forum come up with, and I’m sure the Founders will learn just as much from them as they do from us over the course of the year.